Category Archives: Missiles & Guided Weapons

Weapon Concept

The joint Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and U.S. Air Force Hypersonic Airbreathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) completed yet another successful flight test. The Lockheed Martin version of the missile, with its Aerojet Rocketdyne scramjet, capped a program that accomplished all of its initial objectives. It was the final flight test for HAWC, which is providing critical data to inform Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) hypersonic technology maturation efforts.

Hypersonic Airbreathing Weapon Concept (HAWC)
Artist’s concept of Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapons Concept (HAWC) vehicle

«This month’s flight added an exclamation point to the most successful hypersonic airbreathing flight test program in U.S. history», said Walter Price, an Air Force deputy for the HAWC program. «The things we’ve learned from HAWC will certainly enhance future U.S. Air Force capabilities».

The Lockheed Martin missile again flew at speeds greater than Mach 5/3,836 mph/6,174 km/h, higher than 60,000 feet/18,288 m, and farther than 300 nautical miles/345 miles/555.6 km. This latest flight demonstrated improved capabilities and performance. The nation’s hypersonic portfolio now has two feasible hypersonic airbreathing missile designs (Lockheed Martin and Raytheon) to improve and mature in the future.

«The HAWC program created a generation of new hypersonic engineers and scientists», said Andrew “Tippy” Knoedler, the HAWC program manager. «HAWC also brought a wealth of data and progress to the airbreathing hypersonic community. The industry teams attacked the challenge of scramjet-powered vehicles in earnest, and we had the grit and luck to make it work».

Even though the HAWC program has executed the final phase of the program, there is still data to analyze and more opportunities to mature the technology. DARPA plans to continue that maturation in the More Opportunities with HAWC (MOHAWC) program by building and flying more vehicles that build upon HAWC’s advances. Those missiles will expand the operating envelope of the scramjet and provide technology on-ramps for future programs of record.

«We had our share of difficulties», said Knoedler. «Through a pandemic, a strained supply chain, and atmospheric rivers, our industry partners forged ahead, mitigating the risks where they could and accepting others. They delivered on their promises, proving the feasibility of the concept».

POINT BLANK

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has unveiled its POINT BLANK electro-optically guided missile, that can be carried in a soldier’s backpack. The system answers the battlefield requirement to provide tactical units ranging in size from small tactical teams to battalion level, with an independent and organic capability to increase their lethality.

POINT BLANK
A multi-year, multi-million-dollar contract has been awarded by the U.S. Department of Defense to IAI to develop and deliver the new hybrid electro-optically-guided missile

POINT BLANK allows these units to attack a variety of targets in real time with great precision and high lethality, without the need for support. The missile is hand-launched, operated by a single soldier, and can take off from and land vertically back to, the soldier’s hand.

IAI, as prime contractor, has been competitively awarded a multi-million-dollar contract by the Irregular Warfare Technical Support Directorate (IWTSD) of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to rapidly develop and deliver “ROC-X” a version of the POINT BLANK system that meets specific U.S. DoD requirements for the purpose of increasing the organic precision strike lethality and survivability of small tactical teams. IAI will provide the first prototypes and training to DoD for Operational Testing & Evaluation in FY 23.

POINT BLANK weighs about 15 lbs./6.8 kg and is about 3 feet/91 cm long. The missile can fly at altitudes above 1,500 feet/457 m, at a maximum speed of 178 mph/186 kph and can hover or loiter in the air while the target’s nature and exact position is confirmed prior to attack. Thanks to IAI’s advanced manufacturing technologies, the missile can carry electro-optical systems to validate and collect surveillance information in real time, and it is also being developed to be equipped with a warhead to destroy the target.

IAI’s Executive VP Systems, Missiles & Space Group, Mr. Guy Bar Lev said: «POINT BLANK joins Israel Aerospace Industries’ family of missiles, to provide ground-based tactical forces with more precise capabilities to undertake offensive operations especially against short-lived targets. We wish to thank the IWTSD for its support and cooperation in the field of precision munitions, confirming, yet again, the importance of tactical missiles to the modern army. IAI continues to develop and improve a wide range of offensive systems which provide precision operational solutions, and stands firmly to support our U.S. customers».

IAI is both a national and world center of excellence in the fields of offensive missiles, air defense, radars, satellites, remotely controlled platforms, civil aviation, and cyber, supplying end-to-end solutions for use on land, in the air, at sea, and in space.

Rocket Motor Production

Northrop Grumman Corporation will assume production of rocket motors for the U.S. Army’s Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS), fulfilling the full contract production quantity. The company recently delivered its 15,000th rocket motor and 20,000th warhead to Lockheed Martin for final assembly.

GMLRS
Northrop Grumman will assume production of rocket motors for the U.S. Army’s Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) (Photo credit: Lockheed Martin)

«We are proactively investing in production facilities and technologies in support of producing even higher rates of rocket motors faster and more affordably to meet our customer’s anticipated demand», said Jim Kalberer, vice president of missile products, Northrop Grumman. «We are leveraging our capacity and modern manufacturing facilities to deliver critical military needs».

The propulsion system, once delivered to Lockheed Martin’s Camden, Arkansas, final assembly facility, will be integrated into GMLRS missiles – a ballistic rocket designed to engage targets from 15 to 70 kilometers/9.3 to 43.5 miles. Northrop Grumman’s safety enhancing insensitive munition provides the system structural integrity under extreme conditions such as heat, shock and adjacent detonations. The ignition safety device further improves the weapon system’s safety characteristics by preventing unwanted combustion.

«Northrop Grumman is a trusted supplier of GMLRS rocket motors with robust manufacturing capacity to meet the demands of our customer», said Jay Price, vice president of Precision Fires for Lockheed Martin.

Northrop Grumman designed and constructed a purpose-built manufacturing facility at the Allegany Ballistics Laboratory in Rocket Center, West Virginia, using lean manufacturing and digital engineering techniques which enables a robust and resilient Defense Industrial Base. The facility provides for the efficient design, development and production of this critical weapon system component.

12 air-to-air missiles

Flying locally over the Gulf of Mexico, two F-15EX Eagle II aircraft launched missiles from their new weapon stations, known as Stations 1 and 9, here November 29.

F-15EX Eagle II
F-15EX Eagle II proves out full air-to-air capability

The 96th Test Wing’s pilots fired an AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) from Station 1 and an AIM-9X Sidewinder from Station 9 over the Eglin Test and Training Complex’s water range.

This Operational Flight Program Combined Test Force (OFP CTF) mission was the first Air Force test flight to validate the weapons could be fired effectively and safely from those stations. The successful employment of these weapons is a major step in demonstrating the F-15EX Eagle II aircraft’s missile capacity of 12 air-to-air missiles.

«I’m really proud to be a part of this milestone for the F-15EX Eagle II program to deliver increased payload capacity to the combat air forces», said Major Jeremy Schnurbusch, 40th FLTS-attached pilot, who fired the AIM-9X missile.

This is one of many upgrades F-15EX Eagle II brings to the Air Force inventory. Prior to the F-15EX Eagle II, F-15 aircraft models could carry eight air-to-air missiles. The F-15EX Eagle II adds four additional missile stations located toward the wing tips. This mission provided the first test points for validating the expanded carriage and employment capabilities of the Eagle II.

Both aircraft successfully released the missiles on separate passes against a target drone. The releases were another milestone in the F-15EX’s developmental test program, but also incorporated many operational test objectives during the mission.

«Having been a part of the Eglin F-15EX team from day one, it’s exciting to see the progress made and new milestones achieved as we work to field the most combat-capable F-15EX», said Major Brett Hughes, OFP CTF, who successfully fired the AIM-120 from Station 1.

With this success, these missile launches pushed forward the aircraft’s integrated developmental and operational testing here, where the F-15EX Eagle II fired its first missile just nine months ago.

«The integrated test strategy has been critical to our test success, allowing us to break the mold of traditional testing, ultimately resulting in a better overall product for the warfighter in a shorter timeline than a traditional approach», said Colton Myers, OFP CTF F‑15EX Eagle II test project manager.

Once initial testing is complete, operational units receiving the new F-15EX Eagle II will be able to carry and employ a full load-out of 12 missiles on the aircraft upon fielding.

«The F-15EX Eagle II is an incredible addition to the USAF inventory. This event, executed by a top-notch team of test pilots, engineers, and experts, proves yet again the F-15EX Eagle II will be ready if, and when, our adversaries challenge our nation’s interests», said Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Wee, OFP CTF commander.

Japan Flight Test

Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc. (KDRSS), a leading National Security Solutions provider, announced on December 27, 2022, that its Defense & Rocket Systems business supported the successful intercept test of a Medium-Range Ballistic Missile (MRBM) target by a Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) Block IIA fired from the JS Maya (DDG-179), marking the first time that a Japanese Maya-class destroyer has fired an SM-3 Block IIA. The intercept was the highlight of the Japan Flight Test Aegis Weapon System-07 (JFTM-07) event which featured four Kratos subscale ballistic missile targets that was conducted by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and the United States Missile Defense Agency (MDA) over a span of two weeks from the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) in Hawaii. During the event, the Kratos team also supported a live-fire event featuring the engagement of a Short-Range Ballistic Missile (SRBM) target by the JS Haguro (DDG-180). Altogether, Kratos along with Government and industry partners, integrated and launched three MRBM targets and one SRBM target in support of these mission critical national security related exercises.

JS Maya (DDG-179)
Kratos Rocket Systems Supports Multiple Successful Ballistic Missile Intercept Tests During Japan Flight Test Aegis Weapon System-07 Event

The three-stage MRBM targets feature a “payload” mounted atop Kratos’ proven Oriole rocket motor and two government surplus Terrier Mk-70 rocket motors, while the two-stage SRBM target uses a Kratos Oriole and one Terrier Mk-70, to deliver the respective payloads to specific mission requirements. All four target vehicles, which have an incredibly successful, flight-demonstrated heritage on test and intercept missions for the US Navy and the MDA, executed nominal trajectories while meeting target requirements.

Kratos is a leading provider of products, solutions, and services supporting ballistic missile defense for Aegis, hypersonic testing, atmospheric science research and technology maturation. «Our team works side-by-side with our government customers to deliver transformative and affordable target systems and vehicles from mission inception through successful launch operations. JFTM-07, which was one of our largest recent mission campaigns, is just the latest example», said Dave Carter, President of KDRSS. «We are grateful to be able to continue supporting the U.S. DoD and its allies in this very important mission area».

Eric DeMarco, President and CEO of Kratos, said, «These multiple successful missions with our government partners are representative of Kratos’ industry differentiating ability to rapidly develop and field relevant systems, at an affordable cost, in support of National Security priorities. At Kratos, affordability is a technology, and our mission is to disrupt the traditional procurement and cost model, providing our customers mission relevant products and systems at an affordable cost, enabling rapid, high-volume operations, testing and fielding».

Bolide

Saab has received an order from Finland regarding missiles for the RBS 70 ground-based air defence system. The order value is approximately SEK 800 million and deliveries will take place 2023-2026.

RBS 70
Finland Places Order for Saab’s RBS 70 Missiles

The order includes Saab’s latest version of the RBS 70 missile, Bolide, which enables engagement with airborne armored targets and drones. The missile will be used with Finland’s current RBS 70 systems, which have been in use in the country for more than 15 years. In Finland the system is referred to as ITO05 and ITO05M (Ilmatorjuntaohjus 05).

«We are proud to continue contributing to Finland’s air defence capability with our future-proof Bolide missile, which can be used against a wide range of threats», says Görgen Johansson, head of Saab’s business area Dynamics.

Saab’s portfolio of short-range, ground-based air defence missile systems includes the RBS 70 and the latest version, RBS 70 NG. The RBS 70 has an impressive track-record on the market with more than 1,600 launchers and over 18,000 missiles delivered to 19 nations.

CV90 firepower

MBDA’s AKERON Moyenne Portée (MP) missile has been fired from the BAE Systems Hägglunds CV90 Infantry Combat Vehicle (IFV) at a test range in Northern Sweden, in the presence of representatives of the Swedish Armed Forces.

AKERON MP
MBDA and BAE Systems Hägglunds demonstrate AKERON and CV90 firepower

AKERON is a unique family of fifth-generation tactical combat missiles incorporating the latest technologies in terms of high-resolution multi-band imagers, multi-effect warheads (anti-tank, anti-infrastructure, anti-personnel), data-links, and multi-mode guidance algorithms based on AI (Artificial Intelligence) techniques. CV90 is a highly capable modern Infantry Fighting Vehicle featuring an advanced integrated combat system linked to wider battlefield management systems.

The combination of AKERON MP/LynkEUs and the CV90 combat system offers a unique capability for target engagement in complex environments (forested, urban etc.) through the combination of either immediate target locking of AKERON in Lock-On Before Launch (LOBL) mode, or target acquisition in-flight in Lock-On After Launch (LOAL) mode, all this made possible by the information provided to the crew by the CV90 combat system. This ability of AKERON to engage tanks at ranges of 4 km/2.5 miles, with the option for collaborative combat through the CV90 combat system with a LynkEUs integrated micro-UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) for scouting is unique.

The firing conditions for the trial were set to highlight the complementarity of the CV90 advanced combat system with the unique capability of AKERON MP/LYNKEUS, and with regards to winter combat conditions in the Nordic country; with a successful Lock-On Before Launch (LOBL) in TV band.

Extended Range

Northrop Grumman Corporation has completed the fourth successful flight test of its AGM-88G Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile Extended Range (AARGM-ER). The U.S. Navy launched the missile from an F/A-18 Super Hornet aircraft on November 30 at the Point Mugu Sea Range off the coast of southern California, successfully engaging an operationally-representative, moving maritime target.

AARGM-ER
Northrop Grumman’s Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile is launched from a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet aircraft (credit U.S. Navy)

«AARGM-ER’s performance during testing continues to validate the missile’s ability to detect, identify, locate and effectively engage critical air-defense targets from an extended range», said captain Alex Dutko, Navy Program Manager for Direct and Time Sensitive Strike (PMA-242). «This test proved the systems’ ability to engage moving maritime targets, a vital capability supporting our Navy’s ability to control sea lanes during conflict. Congratulations to the government/industry team for their continual focus on delivering this crucial capability to our warfighters».

Northrop Grumman is currently under contract to deliver production units of AARGM-ER to support Initial Operational Capability (IOC) fielding within the next two years. Northrop Grumman has received a Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) contract for the first and second lots of AARGM-ER.

AARGM-ER leverages existing AARGM sensors, electronics and digital models with the addition of a new high-performance air vehicle, solid rocket motor and advanced warhead to provide vital counter-air-defense capability for U.S Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps warfighters.

«The necessity for a reliable, standoff, survivable weapon continues to grow as our adversaries’ threat systems become longer range and more lethal», said Gordon Turner, vice president, advanced weapons, Northrop Grumman. «AARGM-ER continues to demonstrate the ability to affordably meet mission requirements and safeguard those protecting our country».

AARGM-ER is being integrated on the Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler aircraft as well as the F-35 Lightning II aircraft.

Mid-Range Capability

The U.S. Army accepted delivery of the first prototype Mid-Range Capability (MRC) battery. The MRC provides a land-based, ground-launched system with a range between the Army’s Precision Strike Missile and the Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon.

Mid-Range Capability (MRC)
Army accepts delivery of first prototype MRC battery

Building from existing U.S. Navy missile and launcher systems, the MRC provides a fires capability that has not existed in the U.S. Army since the implementation of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty in 1987. Answering the call to the Army’s No. 1 modernization priority, Long-Range Precision Fires, the MRC can defeat a variety of mid-range targets.

«The MRC rapidly progressed from a blank piece of paper in July 2020, to the Soldiers’ hands in just over two years. The Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO) team, as well as our joint service and industry partners, delivered this hardware so Soldiers can begin training as quickly as possible», said Lieutenant General Robert Rasch, Director of the Army RCCTO.

Initial hardware delivery occurred with ongoing support planned through December 2022 in preparation for training to begin after the holidays. The delivery includes a complete MRC ground equipment and reload capability, which comprises a battery operations center, four launchers, prime movers, and modified trailers.

The MRC achieves operational capability in fiscal year 2023 upon completion of system testing, training, and delivery of the missiles. Delivering the ground hardware first allows the Soldiers to train on the equipment, create doctrine for the system, and develop tactics, techniques, and procedures.

The MRC Project Office works closely with the Soldiers and Sailors who benefit from this system via embedded Soldier-Sailor Centered Design Events. These events provided critical user feedback throughout the design process and ensured Soldiers and Sailors were at the center of this effort.

In executing the mid-range fires system and testing, the Army continues to work in close coordination with its joint service and agency partners.

MRC
Dino Pusinsky, Director of Next Generations Solutions for Lockheed Martin with Gary Hallinan, RCCTO’s Mid-Range Capability Project Manager. The first Mid-Range Capability battery was delivered to the U.S. Army, increasing their capability to address threats and provide support in multi-domain operations (Lockheed Martin)

Remote Interceptor Guidance

For the first time, the U.S. Army used a newly developed Lockheed Martin communication technology to help a PATRIOT Advanced Capability 3 (PAC-3) missile intercept a cruise missile target.

Remote Interceptor Guidance – 360 (RIG-360)
PAC-3 Intercepts Target in Successful Test of Lockheed Martin Remote Interceptor Guidance-360 (RIG-360) Capability

During the U.S. Army Integrated Flight Test-2, the prototype missile communication device known as Remote Interceptor Guidance – 360 (RIG-360) successfully communicated with an in-flight PAC-3 missile to test its data link capabilities. RIG-360 enables a 360-degree PAC-3 engagement capability utilizing target data from various sensors.

«This successful test confirms our RIG-360 prototype as one of the many ways we continue to deliver technology to ensure our customers stay ahead of the full spectrum of 21st century threats», said Scott Arnold, vice president, Integrated Air and Missile Defense, Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control.